The following questions are part of a process I have used on occasion in seminars after the participants have an understanding of the key ideas I teach. But I figure if you have subscribed to this column for very long, you have that background. Ideally, I would put you into an altered state of consciousness before asking you the questions. Instead, you’ll have to breathe deeply, get quiet and trust the first thoughts that pop into your mind in response to each question.
1. Pick a problem in your life involving another person and clearly define it.
2. Have you acknowledged the problem as a reality that needs to be dealt with, or are you ignoring it, hoping it will go away or resolve itself?
3. Can you accept that on a karmic level, you are responsible for the problem? Yes or no? (You set up the problem as an opportunity to learn a needed lesson.)
4. Is there any kind of payoff in keeping the problem? By that I mean, are you somehow served in other ways by allowing the problem to continue? Yes or no? (As an example, dealing with the problem might complicate your life or cause you emotional pain.)
5. Do you sincerely desire to resolve this problem? Yes or no?
6. Do you need more information before you can act to resolve the problem? If so, how do you obtain the knowledge you require?
7. Can you reframe the situation? Don’t look at it as conflict between competing solutions. Instead, define it in terms of conflicting needs. What are your needs? What are the other person’s needs?
8. The only way to solve a problem involving others is to make it a win-win situation. Be creative. How can both of your needs be satisfied?
9. Are you assuming there are only a couple of solutions? If so, you’re arguing for your limitations. There are probably numerous ways to achieve the results you desire. Ask yourself the right questions. Forget about what other people think ... what society thinks. How else could you handle the situation?
10. Assuming you have various options to handle your problem, what are the prices and potential rewards of each option?
11. Are you willing to pay the price?
12. What do you really want to do? Not what is the best option, or the most realistic or sensible decision, but what do you really want to do?
13. What does that communicate to you?
14. You are creating your own reality with every thought that flows through your mind. Everything you think, say and do creates karma ... and that includes the motive, intent and desire behind everything you think, say and do. Knowing this, how are you going to handle the problem?
15. Take a few moments to visualize the situation as resolved, and experience how you feel about it.
Your thoughts generate your anger. Release negative thoughts and your anger will dissipate. This idea isn't news to most of you reading this.
As I've pointed out before, the only reason you get angry is because you have expectations of approval or control. You want someone else to approve of your actions ... or you want to control their actions or reactions. When that doesn't happen, you get angry.
Or as my friend Michael Misita once told me: "One day I noticed that every time I got angry it was because I wasn't getting what I wanted."
"The Course In Miracles" advise that anger is fear-based and you should never express it toward others, because in so doing you're unable to see clearly your interconnectedness with others.
Saint Augustine said, "It is better to deny entrance to just and reasonable anger than to admit it, no matter how small it is. Once let in, it is driven out again only with difficulty. It comes in as a little twig and in less than no time it grows big and becomes a beam."
Okay. But if you follow this saintly advice, what about the resulting repression? Repressed emotions fester within and always end up surfacing in some undesirable way such as ulcers, depression or misdirected antagonism. Long-term repression can cause cancer.
Do not repress such a strong emotion as anger, but learn to control anger so it doesn't destroy your relationships, raise your blood pressure, and come back to you in the form of cause and effect. Expressed negativity will always come back to you in the form of negative experiences.
So what can you do to deprogram anger? A good place to start is by reminding yourself when you get angry that your expectations are in conflict with what is. Maybe the other person is an asshole. That's what is. The other person is incompetent. That's what is. The other person is inconsiderate and selfish. That's what is. You can resist what is, blow your top and raise your blood pressure, but it won't change what is. In other words, your anger will probably only make matters worse.
Second, I'd suggest mind programming (you already knew I'd suggest that). Master of Life or Zen suggestions in the form of hypnosis or sleep programming is highly effective. I have new Zapper programs that are currently most popular.
Some people have greatly reduced their anger levels with a mantra such as. "From now on, I choose to respond to negativity with tranquility." Say it over and over and over to yourself throughout the day -- ideally, hundreds of times a day. Then when you encounter an anger-inducing situation, the programming will click in. Chances are, a firmly stated reaction will be more powerful than an angry response , which will always generate resentment in the other person.
Running is a Tibetan cure for anger. If you're in an office, rush up and down the stairs. If you're at home, run around the house or around the block. Exertion requires more oxygen. When your breathing changes, your thought patterns also change.
And if you can't run, do some deep breathing. Take a deep breath and hold it as long as you comfortably can, then let it out slowly through slightly parted teeth (this allows you to retain the moisture in your mouth), and when the breath is all the way out, contract your stomach muscles and push it further out and further out. Then repeat the process. A few minutes of this breathing is extremely relaxing and will defeat immediate anger.
The idea is to learn to control your anger or it will control you.